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Iran says crew of Israel-linked ship freed

Iran has released the crew of a seized Portuguese-flagged ship linked to Israel, but remains in control of the vessel itself, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards seized the container ship MSC Aries, with a crew of 25, in the Strait of Hormuz on 13 April, days after Tehran vowed to retaliate for a suspected Israeli strike on its consulate in Damascus. Iran had said it could close the crucial shipping route.

“The seized ship, which turned off its radar in Iran's territorial waters and jeopardised the security of navigation, is under judicial detention,” Amirabdollahian said, according to a foreign ministry post on X late Thursday night.

He said the release of the crew was a humanitarian act and they could return to their countries along with the ship’s captain.

Iran’s foreign ministry had earlier said the Aries was seized for "violating maritime laws" and that there was no doubt it was linked to Israel.

MSC leases the Aries from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, which is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.

Reporting by Reuters